Canadian News May 4, 2021 8:17 PM EST

Med. School dean says the US must help Canada with vaccines

Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor University says it’s in the United States’ interest to help as Canada falls behind in vaccinations.

Med. School dean says the US must help Canada with vaccines
Brendan Boucher Ottawa, ON
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Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor University says it’s in the United States’ interest to help as Canada falls behind in vaccinations, according to The Canadian Press.

Dean of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University  Dr. Peter Hotez says there are "emotional" and "pragmatic" reasons to help Canada obtain vaccine doses as "essentially no one" is fully vaccinated compared to about 30% of Americans. "I was really astonished," Dr. Hotez continued, "only about a third of (Canada) has received a single dose."

Dr. Hotez has been frequently featured as an infectious disease and vaccine expert in the media during the pandemic, and called it "ridiculous" to think that vaccines will protect the United States if Canadians are not, using the example of Detroit and Windsor.

Dr. Hotez pointed out that there are only 38 million Canadians compared to over 332 million Americans. According to many experts, Dr. Hotez thinks that providing Canada with vaccines would be highly doable for the United States who has done a much better job with vaccine infrastructure.

Mexico is also struggling to roll out the vaccine to its 130 million residences which begs the question of where to draw the line when it comes to foreign vaccine supports. Many are calling on the United States to support a motion that would alleviate some intellectual property laws around vaccines in order to help developing countries produce more vaccines of their own.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky supports the notion saying, "The World Health Organization has said that there's been a billion vaccine doses distributed, but just 0.3 percent of those doses have gone to poor and developing countries. And that is just totally unacceptable."

Developing countries like India have criticized rich countries like the United States for "vaccine nationalism," which they claim is preventing more people from getting the vaccine in the name of profit. Rep. Schakowsky agrees, saying, "we are seeing is war profiteering; we're seeing that profits are being put over people,"

A proposition in the World Trade Organization (WTO) would relax intellectual property rights to help improve the vaccine distribution. Those in favour include India’s ambassador to the organization Brajendra Navnit and the above-mentioned Rep. Schakowsky. Those opposed include pharmaceutical companies and Microsoft founder Bill Gates who says, "There's only so many vaccine factories in the world, and people are very serious about the safety of vaccines moving a vaccine, say, from a (Johnson & Johnson) factory into a factory in India, it's novel, it's only because of our grants and expertise that can happen at all."

Prime Minister Trudeau said on the matter, "I know the conversations around patent protections are ongoing and Canada is actively participating in them… We understand how important it is to get vaccines to the most vulnerable around the world, and we will keep working for that."

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